I'm 17 and planning a grad. trip with friends possibly around Europe. We recently went to Chicago and got taken advantage of while taking what should have been a 7 minute cab trip- it turned out to be 45 minutes of a wide circle detour. I was enraged. Just because we were young girls the foreign driver thought he could scam some extra dough off of us. Luckily we know Chicago somewhat well and knew right away were were getting jipped.
Is is stupid to think that we're not going to run into serious problems in a foreign country??...how does one become 'street smart' without making all the mistakes?
Making all the mistakes is certainly part of it. sorry you got ripped off.
Europe is no worse (or no better) than the US in that respect. the fact that you are as young as you are probably leads people to think they can take liberties. Fortunately, I'm a middle aged bloke that looks like a thug so I don't get messed around too much.
The best things I can suggest to you, is do your reaearch thoroughly before you go. If you know the taxi fare for the journey from the airport to the middle of town should be $x, be prepared to pay $x plus 10%. Don't pay x x 3 (if that reads correctly - x times three).
Never be afraid to make a fuss. If some taxi man is giving you gip, scream very loudly. there is no man in the world wants to be thought of as abusing a teenage girl. Demand to be taken to the police. I know, depending on what country you are in, that the police can be corrupt to a greater or leser degree, but nobody wants the hassle.
Whilst, morally, it isn't right that you should have to, I would suggest you don't travel alone at your age. I know I'm leaving myself open to all sorts of abuse by suggesting this, but I've travelled, and it's the truth.
If you need any more specific advice about places in Europe, send me a message. Alternatively, if you get to London at some point, I'll buy you a beer.
yeh marissa i would certainly do as much research as poss! i'm 19 and some may think i look younger because of my height but if you've got the confidence that really helps, it can be hard being a young female because you are open to people taking advantage but through confidence and if you've got something to come back at them with-that'll show em, ive had many people who dont know me think that i am a good few years older then what i am beacuse of the way i talk about things and because i have the knowledge!
Just be careful and keep your wits about you.
A couple of things that I have done.
I first ask the person working the desk of my hotel how far something is, and how much the cab ride will be. Then, when I get in the cab I ask the cabbie for an approximately cost of the trip. If it is out of line with what the guy at the hotel said, I query further, and if I am uncomfortable, will go and find a new cab.
I do much more shopping around when I am in the foreign place. I know decent and cheap places to shop in North America, but when I am somewhere else, I have no idea. So I will spend an hour walking from store to store, asking about prices, until I get an idea of what the price should be.
I travel places that are much cheaper than Canada. If someone in Bolivia rips you off, who cares? It's not like they are going to take you for $100. They'll take you for $5, think they made off like bandits, and you'll be sitting there thinking, "wow, I can't believe that ONLY cost me five dollars."
I also ask other travellers. You can learn alot from what has happened to other people. I always watch my stuff extra carefully in bus stations, and never really stop and talk to anyone in the bus station. Too much bad stuff happens in bus stations. I am now completely paranoid of bus stations.
Ultimately, though, the only way to get street smart is to learn. And no matter how old and smart you think you are, there is still someone who can take advantage of you. Suck it up, and enjoy the fact that you are getting to see somewhere else.
Besides, in the end, the rip-off stories are some of the best stories you'll have when you get back home and are telling your friends about them.
well said greg-i would totally agree with you there- a good way of looking at things!